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  • Leon de Stadler

The reader is your client!

Knowing how to focus on your reader - that's the thing!

We so often forget when writing that we are writing TO someone! There is actually a real person on the other side of the document, and even though we may be producing a piece of mass communication, it is always some individual who will engage with the document, try to understand it, have feelings about the message, develop an image of you, the writer, to mention but a few things. So when you write, always think of your reader as your client, just as you would when developing a product or a service: You have to sell the communication. It starts with understanding the three perspectives that you have on the message:

  • A thematic perspective, when you focus your attention on the theme and the content you want to convey about the theme

  • A sender perspective, when you focus on projecting your own image

  • A reader perspective, when you focus on your reader, address your reader, consider your reader's needs

There is a natural tendency for writers to give more attention to the thematic perspective, to focus on the content, while ignoring the other perspectives, namely a focus on how you project yourself and how you attend to your reader and his or her needs. When establishing a relationship with your reader there is another variable that you need to consider, namely that when you are communicating you are not conveying only one message, but four!

  • Of course your are conveying information (the content), so it is of vital importance that your information will take the needs of your reader into account.

  • But quite often your are also making some kind of an appeal to the reader to respond to your message in a certain way. Example would be the appeal to use a tool correctly (based on the manual that you provide with the tool), or the appeal to apply a policy the way it should be applied (based on the relevant policy document), or the appeal to change your mind regarding a certain issue (based on the persuasive text that you published).

  • You also send a more emotive message. This message is quite often hidden somewhere in all the words that your using, projecting your image to the reader, but also telling the reader what you think of him or her.

  • And finally, you also create a relational message regarding the relationship between you and your audience, a message conveying your interest in and respect for your audience, the nature of the relationship between you.

The problem with most writers is that they concentrate so much on the first message (the content) that they forget that - whether they like it or not - they are conveying the other three messages at the same time. And the art lies in getting these four messages to make communication music!

Want to know more? Contact me!


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